There were many that claimed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, at the spritely age of 35, was past his best when he signed for Manchester United in the summer. Nine months later and the Premier League defences he has left in his wake tell another story.
The charismatic Swede arrived on these notoriously difficult shores, and has not simply succeeded, he has conquered them as only Zlatan can. This is no mean feat, other giants of the European game have come, floundered and left the unforgiving Premier League.
Goals before turning 30: 232 ⚽️
Goals since turning 30: 250 ⚽️
Age is just a number. pic.twitter.com/D40DgOw6cq
— Manchester United (@RedDevilsHub) 13 April 2017
Andriy Shevchenko arrived at 29 as the second highest top scorer in AC Milan's history with a Fifa World Player of the Year under his belt, only to resemble Jeremie Aliadiere when tested in the Premier League.
More recently, Angel Di Maria signed for United at 26, only to leave a year later, having failed to come close to replicating the scintillating performances he turned in for Real Madrid.
The extraordinary brilliance of Ibrahimovic cannot be underestimated. It takes a truly world class talent to score 17 goals in a debut season in the Premier League, and it takes something even more special to do that at 35-years-old.
With eight games left for Manchester United this season, a further seven goals would make Zlatan a record breaker. He would become the highest scoring non-British player in their debut Premier League season. This record, currently held by Fernando Torres, was set when the Spaniard was at his frightening best.
All the more impressive as Ibrahimovic's 28 goals in all competitions have come for one of the lowest scoring United sides in recent years. Mourinho's current side have scored five goals less than Van Gaal's much maligned team did.
The Swede is producing within a side that is struggling, and that shows star quality. Ibrahimovic is extraordinarily on course to become the club's top goal scorer over the last two season, despite only being in his ninth month at Old Trafford.
Quite simply, where would Manchester United be without Zlatan?
The answer to that question, is eighth. The Swede's goals have won 12 points this season for Mourinho's men, as Zlatan's form has propelled a stumbling Manchester United into top four contention. Only Diego Costa boasts a better Premier League points return.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the oldest player in Premier League history to score 17+ goals in a single campaign.
Benjamin Button. ➡️ pic.twitter.com/bGVJfLuYwR
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 13, 2017
With 28 goals in all competitions, Zlatan's influence has extended beyond the Premier League. His double in the League Cup Final delivered Mourinho's first silverware as the Red Devils' boss, and with five goals and three assists in the Europa League Zlatan is on course to deliver that prize as well.
If Manchester United do qualify for the Champions League, whether it be the via the top four or the Europa League, it will be thanks to Zlatan.
However, the former PSG man is about far more than goals. He is one of the ultimate big game players in the Didier Drogba mould, a born winner that brings calm to the rest of the team.
"Who's the best striker in the league?"
Zlatan: "Lukaku's good & Aguero."
Zlatan: "Lions don't compare themselves to humans." pic.twitter.com/oFe99YKf9u
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) April 4, 2017
Even when Manchester United were drawing 2-2 against Southampton in the League Cup Final there was an inevitable sense about what would happen. There was never any real reason to panic, as the Saints missed chance after chance, it was as if everyone new Zlatan would fix it. He may have left it later than most United fans would have liked, but he decided the match.
With both Chelsea and Tottenham still to play in the run in would be of no surprise if Zlatan decided the title as well.
Many will argue that he has not catapulted United into a title race they should be in, but it is important to realise he has single-handedly put them in a top four battle they shouldn't be anywhere near.